Gasparilla Island is on track to post the fifth-best annual traffic total ever recorded after a healthy November drew 70,529 vehicles.
If the 71,185 monthly paid-toll average is matched in December, the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority would tally 854,423 paid vehicle units for 2012. The all-time record of 904,766 was set five years ago in 2007.
Traffic has remained steady despite two toll $1 increases in the past 14 months equaling 50 percent of the $4 toll before the boosts.
The South Bridge remains on schedule to open in March.
Traffic stability is more important than ever after island voters rejected a proposed property tax increase Nov. 6 and tolls became the only revenue stream established to pay for the estimated $40 million bridge project. Bonds and a possible loan from the State Infrastructure Bank will likely be added to the financing mix in the coming months.
November toll traffic was off 1 percent and 897 vehicles from November 2011. The year-over-year November decrease was only the fourth monthly traffic decline in the first 11 months of 2012.
"It is still higher than November 2010," said Jim Cooper, GIBA executive director.
What: Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority special meeting
When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6
Why: to review GIBA Swing Bridge contract appeal
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Woman's Club Room
What: Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Audit Committee meeting
When: 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6
Why: to review all GIBA contracts
Where: GIBA admin room.
November traffic was the sixth-thickest in history. Traffic tolls came in 4,974 behind the all-time November record of 75,476 set in 2007.
GIBA 2012 traffic counts are now up 1.8 percent and 14,020 vehicles through 11 months over the same time in 2011.
After gaining 10,105 vehicles in November over October, Gasparilla Island traffic is following its traditional pattern. It tends to bottom out in September before picking up each month in the fourth quarter.